Andrew Heaney will start on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday night in Anaheim, Calif., when they play the San Francisco Giants, hoping to continue his recent stretch of effective starts.
Heaney has been inconsistent throughout most of his major league career, having spectacular performances only to be followed up by a horrible start in his very next appearance.
The trend continued this year until recently. In his past four starts, Heaney is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA, lasting at least five innings in all four games and not giving up more than three runs in any of them.
Finding the right mix of pitches has been the goal all along as it is for all pitchers, but for Heaney, it centers on his fastball.
“With a guy like him, he’s an anomaly,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “His fastball plays big all the time. And the other pitches aren’t as good as that pitch. That pitch is outstanding. But we have other guys who have to have a mix in a more balanced way.”
One of those recent starts came against the Giants. On June 1 in San Francisco, Heaney allowed one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven. Of the 89 pitches he threw in the game, 65 were fastballs.
He threw 82 fastballs out of 109 pitches in his next start June 8 against Kansas City, another victory.
“It’s a case-by-case basis, but if I could draw it up, this is the way I’d want to do it,” Heaney said. “When I’m going good, that’s how it goes, and it makes my secondary pitches better.”
Including his victory this season, Heaney is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against the Giants.
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (7-2, 3.01) will start for San Francisco, coming off victories in each of his past three starts. That includes a two-hit shutout against Washington on June 11.
He’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, limiting opposing teams to two runs or fewer in 10 of his 14 starts.
While Heaney relies heavily on his fastball, DeSclafani thrives when he commands his changeup, as was the case in his shutout of the Nationals.
“I think the difference-maker was probably my changeup,” DeSclafani said. “That was probably my highest usage of my changeup all season. It might even be (the highest) of my career, honestly.
“I’ve been working on some mechanical changes, and I felt good with it. Hopefully that pitch can kind of do what it did moving forward.”
DeSclafani has faced the Angels once in his career, getting a victory in 2019 while pitching for Cincinnati, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
–Field Level Media